Here are a handful of gardening tips to help make your experience just a little more successful, and therefore, enjoyable:
- Your tomatoes can still ripen on the vine even when frost threatens them. Simply dig them up, trim off the dirty end or wash, and hang the plants upside down in a warm area. They will ripen slowly and taste almost as good as if they ripened in the sun,
- Avoid dealing with Squash Vine Borers by planting varieties that don't have hollow stems, like any found in the species C. moschata. We intend to try some new ones this year, including Organic Pilgrim, Organic Texas India Moschata, Chirimen, and Honeynut. Learn more about these varieties here. Here are some more C. moschata you might like. If you have a long enough growing season, you can plant your squash a little later after the threat has subsided.
- You can help prevent cutworm damage by placing paper or cardboard collars around the bases of you plants at planting time. You can make them from sturdy paper, or simply cut down paper towel or bath tissue tubes to size. Push them into the soil slightly. Later in the season they can be removed if need be, If you have never had cutworms, lucky you! They can do a lot of damage eating through the stems of young plants in a very short period of time,
- Plan on succession planting, especially if your season is limited. Following one crop with another increase your yield dramatically. Be sure to replenish your soil, and take into consideration any disease or pest issues. It might be hard to find plants later in the season, so learning how to start seeds is a good idea. In the long run, it will save you money as well.
- Similarly, know which crops can take the cold and either plant them early, or later in the season, to extend your growing time. Carrots, for example, can be harvested until the ground freezes. Some greens, like mache aka corn salad, can survive most winters.
- Good organic compost is essential to plant growth. Too many gardeners over-fertilize, when all they really needed was some well balanced compost. A healthy soil will have lots of little life forms in it, and smell healthy. If your soil looks dead, it probably is.
- Check out alternative ways to preserve your produce in addition to canning and freezing. Pictured above are tiny tomatoes soaking in alcohol. They can be used as a adult beverage garnish, or if cooked the alcohol will burn off. Similarly we make our own extracts. Here's more on that.